Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Data Center Fire Protection: What You Need to Know

A data center is a unique space when it comes to fire protection, and the consistent changes being made to the racks and other areas make for a challenging environment to install fire safety equipment, such as alarms and suppression systems.

Even the tiniest of fires can damage key pieces of electrical and technological equipment, resulting in an interruption of IT services and core operations. This loss of time can cost data center operators revenue over the time that the fire-damaged electronic components are being replaced.

The key to superior and effective fire protection in data centers is early detection and suppression.

Early Fire Detection in Data Centers

A large amount of smoke due to even a small fire within a data center can cause equipment failure, damage, and difficulty in responding to the fire due to the sheer amount of smoke. To effectively detect a fire early on in its burn life, the owner of a data center needs to be sure that smoke detectors are located where smoke is most likely to travel in a fire’s early stages.

These are places that are along the airflow path, such as the ceiling and close to HVAC vents. These smoke detectors should be part of a larger, sophisticated fire alarm system that notifies multiple professionals of the chance of a fire. Large data center facilities should have trained personnel who can search for the cause of the smoke who have access to thermal detectors, as many smoke-related incidents are caused by overheated equipment.

Effective Suppression Systems In Case of a Fire

For facility managers, implementing an effective fire suppression system is crucial for full-fledged fire protection, saving your center both time and money. In data centers, the primary choice of fire suppression systems may include sprinklers, pre action sprinklers, and special suppression agents such as mist, inert gas, or a clean agent.

Wet pipe sprinkler systems are the most basic option, but do have a chance of falsely discharging or leaking water onto expensive electronic equipment. These systems will automatically go off when high-heat or smoke is detected. If your data center is already equipped with a wet pipe sprinkler system, consider switching to welded pipe systems.

As for pre action suppression systems, there are two types: single and double interlock systems. For single interlock systems, they rely on separate events before activating, such as smoke or heat detector going off. Double interlock systems provide an extra level of security before sprinklers are activated, meaning that both a detector event and a sprinkler activation must go off before water even enters the pipes.

Clean agent suppression systems are the most common systems in data centers that are not water-based. These systems protect the data and IT equipment, as they are less likely to damage electronic equipment as compared to water.

Do you run a large-scale data center and require a professional opinion on the best fire protection system for your needs? For all of your fire safety needs in Winnipeg, Thompson, Kenora, Brandon, Regina, and Saskatoon, you can depend on Bison Fire Protection. Contact us for your fire protection solutions and services today.

Posted by Rob Read at 11:12 AM

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